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Shalom.

When I discover that I am lacking something that my previous prayers have not got me, I have a tendency to launch into ‘experimental prayers’ - that is, I make requests that I haven’t found in the liturgy.

Example from today: I asked HKBH for knowledge and understanding of the world.

Are such experimental prayers permitted, or should one only ask for things that tzaddikim / talmid chachamim have asked Hashem for?

Many thanks for your time.

P.S. I am a Noachide.

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    Isn't your request part of חונן הדעת in the amida?
    – magicker72
    Jul 18 at 20:58
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    @magicker72 - apologies, not sure! I’m a Noachide, and geographically isolated, and not quite sure what I am allowed to pray and what not. I tend to stick to the tehillim and my ‘Prayers for Noachides’ book - I am concerned that using a Siddur might be stealing.
    – Tom W
    Jul 18 at 21:11

3 Answers 3

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While there is a benefit of praying in the words of the great men, it is surely permissible to add your own words. In fact, this emphasizes that you aren't merely praying by rote.

The Shulchan Aruch, discussing the Amida (prayer with 19 blessings), quotes the Gemaran in Avoda Zara that one may add, in his own words, his own requests as long as it fits in to current blessing.

There are many instances of rabbis crying out a short prayer, or request.

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We find many prayers expressed by Tzaddikim in their own words and that certainly has a lot of power.

However there are some rules that do exist. Like whether you can use Hashem's name, like YKVK, or Elokim. I'd advise against using these special names in personal prayer.

See Beis Elokim for a long discussion of prayer and its deeper intricacies. For instance, we are careful to only use certain names and there is an order to those names. Similarly when is it okay to speak softly or scream etc...

Similarly, If we praise Hashem with our own concoction of words, it appears that we have said a "complete" praise and that no more is necessary (when in fact there is no end how much we should praise Hashem). However, by quoting an earlier source like a prophet; we are not implying that we are praising Hashem entirely, merely referencing a praise that was given and limited specifically for an event. Perhaps this is an issue to praise with our own words, specifically when done publicly.

The Baal Shem Tov has many stories where people pray incorrectly but Hashem listens to them specifically because they are speaking from their heart.

Presumably there is a mixture of desired prayer. My intuition is that formal prayer allows us to use words to direct our mind/heart (Beis Elokim Chapter 3), perhaps your own personal prayer allows for your mind/heart to express itself into words. They are both very powerful and serve different purposes.

I would say continue but continuously learn the rules of prayer so that you can try not to break any rules in a pursuit of coming closer to Hashem.

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The verse says "G-d is close...to all those who call him with truth [sincerely]". If you're sincerely talking to G-d, he will surely listen, even if it's your own words.

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